Woodstock High Budget Passes

Woodstock — The high school budget that spawned an acrimonious meeting, during which parents, teachers and students protested proposed cuts to nearly a dozen teachers and staff positions, passed easily at Town Meeting on Tuesday.

The combined tally among the six towns that pay property taxes for the Woodstock Union High School and Middle School was 985 to 447, which is slightly more than a two-to-one margin.

The article sailed through in five of those towns. Only Bridgewater turned it down, 42-35.

The $11.3 million budget, which is $62,000 less than the current fiscal year’s, will increase taxes by 13 cents per $100 of valuation. Projected K-12 tax rates per $100 of assessed value in each town have Barnard at $1.45, Bridgewater at $1.66, Pomfret at $1.68, Reading at $1.64, Killington at $1.55 and Woodstock at $1.65.

Increases range from 5 cents in Killington to 15 cents in Bridgewater.

At the January meeting, dozens came out to express discontent with the proposed cuts in the budget, notably the potential laying off of Erin Danner, a math teacher at the high school who won teacher of the year at the high school last June. She was also named the best math teacher in Vermont by the Vermont Council of Teachers of Mathematics in 2010.

“Mrs. Danner is one of two reasons why I did so well on the SAT,” said Amanda Owen, who graduated in June, at that meeting. “One of two. She’s a teacher of the year in math in the state of Vermont. That’s saying a lot. Her position should not be eliminated.”

Eleven positions will be affected by the cuts, according to officials. The cuts will be made based on seniority because of rules dictated in the teachers contract, a new version of which was agreed upon in October.

Negotiations between the school board and teachers union to offer buyout packages to thin the workforce, an idea first brought up at the January meeting, fell through.

Jon Wolper can be reached at jwolper@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.